The Consumer Vision

May/June, 2015

Address, 359 Coggeshall St. , New Bedford, MA 02746

Telephone, 508-994-4972

Web Site, www. consumervisionmagazine. com

Email Address,

Publisher, Bob Branco

Editor, Terri Winaught


Letter from the Editor ### by Terri Winaught

The Teaching Profession ### by Alan Dalton

Article from Ernie Jones ### by Ernie Jones

Should Anyone ever Worry About Minecraft? ### News Article

GE Works with Kentucky School for the Blind to design Braille Kits for its Artistry electric range. ### Contributed by Bob Branco and released on March 19, 2015, by the Kentucky School for the Blind.

Progression or Regression ### by James R. Campbell, written on April 9th, 2015.

Facing Blindness ### by Ernest Jones

Article about AmeriCorps ### by Terri Winaught

Tips for VIPS (because visually-impaired persons are important, too). ### by Penny Fleckenstein

Special Notices ### from several contributors

A Wonderful May Perkins Reunion ### by Karen Crowder

Welcome to Spring, the Season of Rebirth ### by Ernest Jones

May's Promise ### by Karen Crowder

Reading Braille ### by Deanna Quietwater Noriega

A Salvation Army Dumpster Escapade ### by Steve Brown

Trivia Contest: Answer from last issue and Question for This Issue ### by Bob Branco

Note: In addition to using the symbol ### (three number signs) in this Table of Contents, the above sign is also used between articles to make searching for and skipping items easier.


May-June issue

Dear Readers,

At least in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, winter finally seems to have released its frozen, persistent grip, so hope that is also the case where you live. Flowers are beginning to bloom and spring breezes offer the scent of life being reborn and the hope that comes with rebirth.

Speaking of hope, my hope, as always, is that you will enjoy this issue of Consumer Vision in which Feature Writer Karen Crowder will include an inspirational poem or two.

I'm also looking forward to any contributions from regular writers Ernie Jones, John Justice and our newest writers James Campbell and Penny Fleckenstein. (Thank you, Penny and James for your excellent contributions. ) I also want to commend Allan Dicey for a beautiful poem in March-April's Consumer Vision.

The two points with which I'd like to conclude are encouraging any new writers who want to contribute to do so, as well as readers who are able to support Consumer Vision financially by purchasing a cookbook with recipes from persons who are blind. This cookbook costs $10 and is available in Braille, in Print and on audio CD. You'll find Bob Branco's address, phone number, and E-mail at the top of the Table of Contents page. For instructions on how to pay for this book using PayPal, please phone, write to or E-mail Bob.

Thanks for reading with me, and thanks to Publisher Branco for his work growing this magazine, and original Editor Janet Marcley who set the high professional standards this publication strives to uphold.

Also, feel free to give me feedback such as: what you like best about Consumer Vision, what you might like to see more of or a a new feature, and what could be improved in your opinions which I very much value. My contact info: t. winaught@verizon. net, E-mail; 412-263-2022, home, and 412-720-8261, cell (call or text).

I respond promptly to E-mails, phone calls and text messages, and a little bit more slowly to Braille letters because I don't always have large enough envelopes in which to send them. That's a shame, because I love Braille and believe that Braille Literacy is so valuable and necessary.

Enjoy spring breezes, warm sunshine and fragrant flowers and don't forget to bring our magazine outside with you, or wherever you go to drink in spring's beauty.

Terri Winaught, Editor


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The Teaching Profession

By Alan Dalton

I'm certainly glad my teaching career is almost at its completion. It's getting so we teachers can't teach anymore; we have far too many other things we need to teach first. Thanks to lack of parental involvement, and our wonderful School Board, we teachers are forced to evaluate all our students, making sure, in our opinion, that each student has had enough sleep, because if a child is tired, you can't reach that child. Does the child look cold? Because if he's tired, and cold, not good. The child can't be reached, and of course, you have to observe students in the lunch room to see if they're hungry. For example, how fast did the student eat his sandwich, or hot lunch? Gotta love those behavioral objectives. So basically, if a student is tired, cold, or hasn't had enough to eat, you can't teach that child, so says the Guidance Department. Then you need to observe your students to see if they move, like sitting at their desk, do they look sore, and can you see any black and blue marks? We have to be Social workers. Child abuse and neglect are two big issues in schools today. Then, of course, you've got to teach the students about drugs and sex, and when you finish that, then there's the Officer Friendly Program, where teachers have to inform students about what the Police Department can and should do for students. The list goes on and on regarding all the various duties we teachers must perform. Maybe, just maybe, when you're through with all this nonsense, you'll find time to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Supposedly, I was hired to teach history and geography, and parents sit back wondering why test scores are so low, especially on SAT's and our forms of testing. It's absolutely bull what teachers have to go through on a daily basis. I remember when I first started teaching, the teacher before me only had 3 credits in geography, and only 18 credits in history, while I wondered why the class average was only a 43. Now a blind teacher comes along with 120 credits in both geography and history, plus graduate school, and all of a sudden the class average was up to 93. Parents were totally outraged that the school board had the nerve to hire someone who was blind. Their argument was, "since he's blind, how can my child get the best possible education?" Parents can put every demand under the sun on teachers, and you better darn well follow them. However, when you request the presence of the parents at a parents/teacher conference, those same parents are nowhere to be found. Throughout an entire year, if I see 3 to 5 parents, that's a lot, but do something wrong, or perceive to do something wrong, and you'll hear from those same parents and be brought before the School Board. My advice is, yes, get permission from parents before you do a darned thing as a teacher. It's called, CYA (Cover You’re a--). You've gotta love how parents take away initiative from teachers, and it's a wonder that students can learn anything. Without a permission slip, your dear little Johnny or Suzie can just sit there and rot.


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Article from Ernie Jones

In last month’s column I related people’s thoughts about going blind. This month I’d like to present what people have told me about learning to cope with blindness after the initial shock lessened, and what they did with their lives. (new voice)With Braille training and classes to learn the computer, I returned to work at my former medical transcription job in the hospital. Later I worked for 10 years as a transcriptionist from out of my home for one doctor and one physician assistant. I’m a published author, volunteer for a cat rescue group encouraging adoption of cats, write weekly columns and sing in the church choir. My life is full. (new voice)I found that my career and my personal disposition flourished once I had embraced blindness — rather than trying to continue to function normally in the sighted world, in which I was only fooling myself. Currently, I’ve taught for 25 years in a Head Start class room with wonderful, sponge-like 3- and 4-year-old children preparing them for kindergarten. In 2009, I was awarded the National Head Start Teacher of the Year Award. I have found the gift of blindness to allow me to accept individuals for the kind, kindred, beautiful souls they are, without the ability to pass judgment based on visual assessment. (new voice)Loss of eyesight may have stopped me from doing handwriting but it has not slowed me as for using the computer. I find people who suddenly know their eyesight is fading and offer them encouragement. Life can still be great. (new voice)After the hospital stay following the mine explosion and loss of my eyes, the state sent me to massage school. I worked in that industry for a number of years, in fact, I taught massage until I developed an allergy to oil and had to give that up. I then worked at a lighthouse for a spell. A few years ago I retired. For several years I wrote, edited and sent out a newsletter for our church. I taught a Bible class in our church and even filled in for the pastor a few times giving the sermon.

(new voice)

I worked as a counselor for the past 20-plus years for addicts and alcoholics and assorted criminals. Being blind, color, race or a body covered with tattoos didn’t bother me. I only heard the person and would help, regardless as to what they looked like. I read constantly. With audio books I can read while working on various projects — mowing the lawn, working on cars, doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen — even while listening to the Super Bowl. (new voice)Washington State Department of Services for the Blind helps the blind with training and skills, preparing them to be able to step into today’s job force. I thank them — they saw my need and helped me achieve my goals. I was given the opportunity to develop computer skills and encouraged to press forward with my writing. Because of going blind, I was introduced once again to my passion for writing, which helped me dive deep into my emotions and feelings and today gives me great enjoyment as I share my stories. (new voice)There was a period of time for retraining with the blind perspective in selling myself to a business to hire me, knowing I could do the job. I also managed a small company from my home with speech software on my computer. In this way I also keep track of our utilities, expenses and grocery shopping. My second job was the American Automobile Association in northern New England, where I worked as a call receiver for 14 years and 8 months, retiring in the spring of 2014. The headset I wore had my computer speech software speaking in my left ear, the customer talking via the phone jack in my right ear and a flip down microphone to talk to the customer while I typed the information into the computer. The average call for a sighted person is three minutes, which I was soon able to do. I worked anything from a normal shift of 8 1/2 hours to 11 hours, depending on what emergencies came up. It takes a lot of concentration working with a headset with both ears taking in conflicting information. One has to train the brain for multi-tasking, and that is not always easy. I lived 2 1/2 miles from the job site and walked back and forth to work with my guide dog, rain or snow.

(New Voice)

I first heard about a great fundraiser being done in our part of New York that included blind men and women driving a car. The fundraiser was to support" campabilities. org, a summer camp for young blind and blind-deaf ages 9 to 19. I was asked if I would like to drive a car with a sighted co-pilot — it was a dream come true. For six years we did this on a regular dirt race track in two different locations. Though I never won first place, I had a blast. One can only imagine what a thrill it is to wear a race driver outfit, including helmet, gloves and flame-retardant driving suit. To feel the power of the wind coming through the front of the car (because all the glass had been removed) was exhilarating. At times the mud would splatter, nearly covering us. One time the co-driver said, "keep going — we are at almost 65 mph. " I could go on for hours describing the fun I had helping to raise money for a very worthy cause . No one wants to be blind but life can still be great. Ernie


For a 24 hour, 7 day a week Christian station for anyone around the world, even the blind.


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Should parents ever worry about Minecraft?, News Article

In the space of a few years, the computer game Minecraft has come to dominate the spare hours of millions of children, and has even entered the classroom. But is this an entirely good thing, asks Jolyon Jenkins.

If I want to irritate my 13-year-old son, Joe, I refer to Minecraft as "digital Lego". He grew out of Lego a long time ago.

But that's what Minecraft is - a computer game in which you build things using cubic blocks. But it's Lego on steroids. You never run out of blocks and they never topple over. You can walk among your own creations, and play online with other people who are in the same world.

Sometimes, monsters come out after dark to try to kill you, which is never pleasant, but compared with games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, Minecraft is innocent, peaceful, and pretty wholesome.

So why does it drive so many parents to distraction?

"It's all consuming," says Gabrielle Wacker, of her 11-year-old son Arthur.

"It's become a way of life. He would be on it before school given the chance. I've had to hide the device in the morning. "

Her biggest worry, she says, is that it reduces his interest in the real world. "He doesn't do any clubs any more. At weekends, one of the first things he says when he gets up in the morning is, 'We're not going anywhere, are we?' because clearly he wants to be at home where he has got access to the devices. "

Minecraft screenshot of a castle

A castle encountered on Joe's adventures in Minecraft

Parenting websites are full of such stories. If not actually playing Minecraft, parents report that their children watch videos of other people playing it.

The statistics are astounding - one group of Minecraft gamers, Yogscast, based in Bristol, is watched for 37 million minutes every day, and they are not the biggest.

The stars of Minecraft, like "Stampy Longnose" are to this generation of children what John Noakes was to mine, except Blue Peter was only on twice a week, whereas Stampy is viewable all day, every day, a permanent uninvited guest in some households.

Brief history of Minecraft

Developed in Sweden by Markus Persson and his company Mojang - officially released in 2011. Company has sold 33 million copies of game in different formats. Bought by Microsoft for $2. 5bn (£1. 5bn) in September 2014.

I hesitate to use the word "addicted", but for some children it seems to fit.

Dr Richard Graham, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist who runs a technology addiction unit at the private Nightingale Hospital in London, sees children with a serious Minecraft habit. He talks about the game's "hyper-reality" which he says makes the external world "slower, paler, less stimulating".

Minecraft screenshot of a valley

A sweeping valley featuring a castle

My son Joe has his own server, where 20 or so like-minded friends have been creating their own world for the last couple of years. Most of them are in America, and he has never met any of them. Their creations are impressive, but still - is it right for kids to be shunning the real world for this virtual, low-rest, blocky universe?

The moves in this argument are as well-rehearsed as a 17th Century gavotte.

Minecraft's champions say that it's very creative and that I should just look at the things kids are making on it.

I concede the point but say that it's two-dimensional, and that children should be exercising more than their mouse fingers. The other side asks why it's any worse than reading for hours at a time.

Because, I say, reading allows you to imaginatively inhabit other minds. The opposition implies that this is just the latest moral panic, and that Stone Age elders probably thought the world was going to the dogs when people stopped just staring at the fire and started telling each other stories.

Minecraft screenshot of a castle

A particularly imposing entrance to a castle

But then there's the "griefing". Because Minecraft is a world with private property but no police force, children are, at least on public servers, in a world that philosopher Thomas Hobbes would have recognized - a state of nature where all are at war with all.

"Griefers" are people who deliberately make trouble, destroy property, and then sometimes post videos of their exploits to amuse everyone.

Even Joe, on his well-ordered server, has had his property stolen by a Russian member. He doesn't know where his stuff went, but suspects it was disposed of in molten lava. When parents think of online bullying, they probably don't think of hard-earned virtual property being trashed, or their children being digitally mugged.

Joe's nine tips to bluff your way in Minecraft:

1. Diamond is the best material for pickaxes because it breaks blocks the fastest and lasts the longest.

2. Players can tame wild wolves by feeding them a few bones, and ocelots with fish.

3. Throwing an enderpearl like a ball allows you to teleport to where it lands.

4. With redstone, you can create complex mechanisms. Some people have even recreated computers.

5. The only blocks in the game which are affected by gravity are sand, gravel, and anvils.

6. Creepers are green creatures which will sneak up behind you and try to blow you up. Skeletons try to shoot you with bows.

7. Cows and sheep can be bred by feeding them wheat, pigs with carrots and chickens with seeds.

8. You can play music to nearby players with a music disc, which are created when a skeleton shoots a creeper.

9. A trapped chest will give off a redstone signal when opened, meaning you can create all sorts of traps to fool your friends.

It was in a bid to deal with griefers that Amanda Osborne set up her own server where her son Callum could play in relative safety. Callum, aged nine, is autistic, and finds it easier to interact with people in the Minecraft world than in the real one.

Now, children with autistic spectrum disorders from around the world are logging on to Amanda's server and making amazing, inspiring creations that impressed even Joe when we paid an online visit.

For some autistic children who have trouble with complex social interactions, Minecraft is clearly a good fit with its lack of intricate social cues and simple environment. But for many parents, the absence of that complexity, in a world where their children spend so much time, might be a reason to be wary.

Student stares at computer with "Minecraft" flashed up on monitor

Schools - such as this one in Juneau, Alaska - have started introducing Minecraft into lessons

But Minecraft is unstoppable. You might think that at least school provides a few hours of Minecraft-free time a day, but the game is coming to classrooms, as education experts enthuse about its ability to engage and capture the imagination of children who are hard to reach through traditional teaching methods. Even the British Museum is getting volunteers to recreate the building and its exhibits in Minecraft.

Worst of all, Lego has brought out its own Minecraft set. What this means for the next generation of engineers brought up in a world where nothing ever falls over, I dare not imagine.

Boy plays Minecraft at kitchen table

The community of people involved with the game numbers in the tens of millions. Many of those fans are children, among whom it is almost a religion.


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GE Works with Kentucky School for the Blind to Design Braille Kit for Electric Range

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky. - March 19, 2015 - The simplicity of GE's Artistry T Series of appliances-an affordable suite of appliances targeted to first-time homebuyers and Millennials-lends itself to a unique market segment: the visually impaired.

Working with students from the Kentucky School for the Blind, GE engineers and designers in Louisville, Kentucky developed an accessory kit of Braille overlays for the new Artistry electric range controls that helps the visually impaired use its cooktop and oven functions.

According to an American Foundation for the Blind article, stoves are the least accessible class of appliances. Many ranges today have smooth, push buttons on a back control panel. The ADA-compliant Artistry range offers front-control knobs that are within reach, and a straightforward design that lends itself to a Braille accessory kit for the blind or visually impaired.

"Both my parents taught special education," says Lee Lagomarcino, a GE product manager who initially championed the project and observed Kentucky School for the Blind students interacting with ranges. "As we developed the Artistry electric range, we knew its simplicity made it more universally appealing and ideal for a Braille application. "

High, low and off heat settings were added to the Braille overlay on GE's Artistry T range controls to help the visually impaired use the cooktop functions.

Student input leads to product concept

Students from the Kentucky School for the Blind helped the GE team determine what was needed - a high, medium and low heat setting for the cooktop, and a low, 350 degree and broil option for the oven. With those readily accessible features to serve as a baseline, the oven can be adjusted to a recipe as needed.

A focus group of students at the school came up with ways to make ranges more user friendly - using puffy paint and brightly contrasting colors to showcase their ideas. GE took those ideas and turned them into the custom-designed Braille kit.

Students also tested the initial designs for ease of use.

Kentucky School for the Blind Program Coordinator Paula Penrod said, "Many times, manufacturers will introduce a new product, then seek comments from consumers with disabilities. Consumers who are blind and visually impaired have unique needs when using appliances. By working with GE during the production stage, our students were able to demonstrate the type of Braille modifications that would be most helpful.

We appreciate GE for seeking our students' input on the front end of GE's Artistry range project. " As a thank you to the Kentucky School for the Blind and its students for their help, GE donated a full suite of Artistry kitchen appliances to the school's campus on Frankfurt Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky.

Pricing and availability The GE Artistry electric ranges and Braille kits are available in black and white and can be purchased nationwide where GE appliances are sold.

For help locating a dealer, go to

www. GEAppliances. com and use the Dealer Locator tool or call the GE Answer Center at 1-800-626-2000.

the estimated retail price of the Artistry electric range is $599, and the braille kit is $15. 75. * (Retailers - Pub number 4-A034 fits the black Artistry range model ABS45DFBS , and pub number 4-A024 fits the white Artistry range model


In addition to the braille kits for ranges, GE offers a standard braille kit for common buttons on its microwave ovens. The kit (pub number 4-A212) can be ordered where GE appliances are sold.

As a group, stoves are the least accessible class of appliances we evaluated. The vast majority have flat, inaccessible oven controls. - American Foundation for the Blind

* Retailers set their own prices.


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Progression or Regression

By James R. Campbell

© April 9, 2015

I am submitting this latest article for Consumer Vision in order to discuss what I call progression or regression.

Over the last twenty years, the advancement of high technology has made it possible for the blind to make more progress than in any other time in history. We now have computers with screenreaders that allow us to send and receive e-mails, use word processors, and surf the internet. The doors that have been opened to us in light of these advances have offered us more possibilities than at any other time. Free screenreaders like NVDA have made it possible for more blind people to have access to a world that they could only dream of otherwise.

Yet, as far as the view of many of the sighted, we still live in the 17th century, and are viewed as objects to be either pitied or criticized.

I recently had a conversation with a friend on a chat line for the blind who told me about a recent experience with an exterminator who came to treat her apartment for bed bugs. He walked into her apartment, and began criticizing her because he said the apartment wasn’t clean enough, as he put it. He asked her if she had family members who came and helped her. Yet, he did not clean the apartment when he vacuumed it, because she still noticed dirt on the floor.

He discarded her deodorant, and discarded the plastic bags she used for her laundry and other needs. He did not put the things that he moved back where she had them, and when he found one of her audiobooks from the NLS collection, he told her that he found one of her "Hearing books for the blind. "

He attempted to show where her surge protector was by pointing at it, as one would do for a sighted person.

When people play games with semantics as this man did, it’s bad enough, but the context in which this happened makes it far worse. I am certain that this is not an isolated incident.

The key is education and exposure. I have never been opposed to taking questions about my blindness when anyone has a question. This is part of the learning process that comprises the beginning of dialogue with the sighted world at large.

It is just as important that the sighted see us in action; preparing food for meals for our families, using our talking timers, and working at our talking laptops with our screen readers. Such simple steps as these are invaluable in furthering our journey out of the 17th century.

But no matter how hard we try, there are some people who will display their sheer stupidity, no matter what we do. Many of the blind are criticized by their own families, and ostracized in other ways. This is especially bad at holidays, when the families treat the blind as breakable pieces of china or put them in a corner and expect them to grow like houseplants. This is something that normal families don’t understand, because functional families don’t treat their family members that way. Functional families tend to allow their blind relatives to participate in the celebrations rather than put them on shelves and expect them to stay in one place.

The goal is self-reliance. We are all interdependent; there are times when we need help. What self-reliance does is allow us to help our friends and families as well as ourselves.

I have always enjoyed cooking, and have often prepared meals for my elderly aunt and me. I help her with many things around the house since she works at a daycare. The more we do for our families, the easier it is.

Each one of us has something to contribute; even those of us who don’t have regular jobs like the sighted. The choice is regression, in which we don’t interact with sighted society, furthering their education, or progression and engagement,which will take us from the 17th century to what we hope will be a brighter future. For those times when we run into those we can’t reach, we can say we tried, and they can’t take that from us.


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Facing blindness

By Ernest Jones

How would you face blindness if today you were told you were going blind? As follows are things other blind people have shared with me, as we try to show that blindness may not be all bad. "I missed not being able to see the sunsets, the birds feeding at our feeder. I also miss not being able to work on my hobby of collecting and identifying seeds. I knew the burden it would place on my wife, having to do all the driving. But with the help of God and His answers to my prayers, I am still a useful person. "How can I support my family? — and oh no, I can no longer drive the old family pickup. Though acquaintances say they will still take me fishing and such, it will not be the same. " I feel I was one of the lucky ones, as I lost my eyesight slowly. Somehow the good Lord always comes through for us. " While driving, everything went black and I totaled the car. I was thought to be drunk, ‘No, I can’t see,’ I replied to the authorities. I was rushed to Massachusetts Eye and Ear to be told I had retinitis pigmentosa, and probably would not get my eyesight back. I was very angry and would get drunk. I smashed a lot of white canes in anger. "Why ME!" I screamed. Then one day I had my experience with the "Higher Power" and slowly learned to accept the blindness as the tunnel closed, leaving only darkness. Today I would not trade my blindness. I am well-adjusted and life is grand. " I lost my sight years ago in a mining accident. The one thing that always stuck with me is, when I awoke after three weeks in the hospital and realized that I was blind because I no longer had any eyes since they were destroyed in the accident, even though I was now blind, I was still alive and had my life to live. So I do it the best I can. "Shock and disbelief were the first thoughts/feelings when told I was going blind. I knew there was something wrong but thought it was my prescription for glasses. That was denial, as I had been told probably 10 years earlier that I would be losing my eyesight someday. "I had spent my working life driving various types of trucks, and was driving a semi-truck load back from Canada one night when I could not see the road. It was that night that led me to get my eyes checked. "After the ‘you are blind’ diagnosis and the shock and disbelief wore off, I grew angry. The state of Montana was great in assisting me the two months it took to get my disability from Social Security. That escalated the anger, knowing I had to go on state aid and on social security disability. I turned to drinking and I let alcohol destroy not only my life, but the lives of others. During those seven years there were several tragedies, all traced to alcohol. "Finally in 1986, after another tragedy, it sunk in that all these problems were caused by alcohol — it would be a good idea if I stopped drinking. I found that once I stopped drinking I was then able to start the grieving process of the loss of my sight. Do I like being blind? No! I would love to see my children and grandchildren, my friends and my dogs. I see them in my mind, but it is not quite the same. But I don’t spend time feeling sorry for myself, for life is still good. " I thanked the Lord for answering my prayers because I asked that the next health issue that would affect my dad, would affect me instead. Dad was bedridden with a number of health issues, and it was the only way a young girl like me could help her dad through the next crisis, or so I thought. "In those first few days of vision loss, I was petrified of having to go through the rest of my life without sight. I was scared, doubtful, apprehensive — but most of all, I felt as alone as I had ever felt before. I prayed and asked for forgiveness, figuring that what was happening was the result of past flaws in my character. "My vocational rehab counselor, through the Division for Blind Services, instilled in me the belief that no matter how hard it was, no matter how hopeless I felt, I didn’t have to go through this alone. There was help, guidance and support that would help me get through the shock and point me in the direction that would take me toward the rest of my life. At this point, I made a decision that I would do whatever it took to get my independence back, to be able to live a productive life in spite of the vision loss. I still went through many troubled moments of fear and doubt, but kept driving forward, one step at a time. The biggest gifts were love, faith, courage and being introduced once again to my passion for writing, which helped me dive deep into my emotions and feelings. "I had encouragement from family, friends and a guiding hand from God, who is still guiding me to this moment. "




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Article about Americorps

By Terri Winaught

If you were alive during the 1960's as I was, you probably remember that period in US history as a truly dynamic decade. It was a time of change and challenge. It was a time of possibility and pain. It was a time of civil unrest and an unashamed passion to seek social justice.

One of the hallmarks of those ten years was the implementation of what President Johnson called, "The Great Society. " VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to America, was a key part of the President's initiative to eradicate poverty and foster self-sufficiency.

Since 1993, VISTA has been incorporated in to AmeriCorps, a federally-funded program designed to "get things done" by addressing education, health-care, public safety and the environment.

Though I could place further discussion of AmeriCorps with the framework of my four years of service-two in AmeriCorps Health Corps and two in KEYS-I will instead share a poem I wrote as a dialog between an AmeriCorps member and a prospective member.

Because each line begins with a letter of the alphabet, this poetic style is called Abecedarian. In addition to sharing with Consumer Vision readers, I have also submitted it for possible inclusion in the 2015 AmeriCorps graduation ceremony.


2015 POEM

AmeriCorps Member: AmeriCorps is a great federally-funded program that really gets things done.

Prospective Member: Believe me, I'd love to join, but what if the kids don't like me?

Member: Courage is what it takes to open yourself up to the kids and take that chance.

DEVOTION is just as important as the courage to try.

Prospective Member: EVERYONE I've talked to about serving says that, so maybe I should try.

Member: FAITH-BASED, school-based and after-school programs are the places you'll serve if you join KEYS.

Prospective Member: GREAT! the more I talk to you and here about AmeriCorps the more confident I'm feeling about joining.

HOW do you go about joining?

Member: It's easy, even though I should warn you that the application is long and you'll also have to write an essay describing why you want to join.

Prospective Member: JUST let me know their phone number, website or both, and I'll fill out an application as quickly as I can.

Member: Kids can be challenging, especially when they are still in the testing phase of the mentoring process, but the rewards are well worth it.

Prospective Member: LOVING kids even though you sometimes won't like them is what it's all about.

Member: MENTORING by asking about hobbies; being sure you are pronouncing the mentee's name correctly, and meeting four hours a month over a six-month period will enable you to achieve the four building blocks of a successful relationship.

Prospective Member: NOW that sounds complicated! I'm beginning to have second thoughts and am thinking that maybe I can't do this after all.

Member: OH, don't think that way. There will be days you will feel exactly like what you just said if you sign up and find a site, but overall, I just know you will do a great job.

Prospective Member: PERFECTION is what I strive for in everything I do, but I guess that's not realistic, is it?

Member: QUITE the opposite, even though doing your best and giving it your all is always the ideal to strive for.

Prospective Member: REALLY sounds intense, but I'm crazy about kids so would like to give it a try.

Member: SUPPORT is what I'll give you throughout the whole process, as an AmeriCorps alum and especially as a friend.

Prospective Member: Trusting you has never steered me wrong.

Member: Usually I'm pretty on target.

Prospective Member: Very true.

Member: Well, I better let you get started.

Prospective Member: EXACTLY.

Member: YOUTH are waiting.

Prospective Member: ZEAL to take advantage of a new, life-enriching opportunity is what I've always been about.

To offer feedback about this article or ask about how to get involved, E-mail t. winaught@verizon. net or phone 412-263-2022.


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Tips For Vips (because visually Impaired Persons are Important, too)

By Penny Fleckenstein

It's been a challenging past month in my life. I've even encountered obstacles meeting the deadline for this article.

Wouldn't you know, I'm sure you've been there. And, if you haven't, no worries, you will get there because life is not without it's difficulties. I've learned some hard lessons which will make the meat tough to eat on this vegan. When I was a child, my dad told me that vegetarians are more delicious for animals to eat than meateaters. Note to all tigers and lions, you can stay away from this one.

For years, even back in 1996, I've been told how important it is to back up all your data. 19 years later, I've finally learned this lesson. I was frantically putting together this column when my BrailleNote Apex started acting whacky. A complete folder containing 80 books disappeared and my digital audiobooks from the National Library Service were unpacking in such a way that I couldn't listen to them. I backed up and set my Braillenote Apex to factory default . . . well, what I thought, completely restoring my Braillenote. Ha, not all the files went back on. All my creative writing folder, articles folder, and so many more folders did not show back up. I couldn't believe it! My backup camera must not have been working properly! What did I do but called my wonderful friend Terri Winaught to ask her to pray. I prayed too. Within minutes, I had located a previous backup file I had on a different thumb drive and now most of my files have been recovered. Not one hundred percent yet, but it's getting there. I have vowed that I will backup my BN Apex at least once a week from now on. It'll save me hours in time and sleep and unnecessary anxiety. I have also vowed to figure out ways to back up other data on other technology such as my computer and Booksense. I still have to rewrite some chapters of a book I'm working on, but I will have peace of mind knowing that I can easily restore in the future. Jonathan Langen, the tech I spoke to at Humanware, suggests we set our BrailleNotes back to factory default at least once a year.

Earlier in the month, I had another BrailleNote disaster. I had to live without it for ten days while waiting for me to get the money to order a new battery and a new ac adapter, and for Humanware to ship it and get it to me. It simply would not charge nor would it work on just electricity. From now on, besides backing up my data, I will keep a spare ac adapter around and order a new battery before my treasured machine dies.

Not so tragic, but nonetheless still time consuming, four of my knitting projects had gotten tangled altogether. I spent four hours, with a little help from my daughter Katrina, disentangling my projects. Long sigh! If only I had taken my own advice and kept all the diffrent skeins of yarn in a ziploc bag as I had suggested in my first Tips For Vips column. One of those hit myself in the forehead moments. You know those ones. I'm sure you've experienced it yourself. If you haven't yet, I'm sure you will. Life has a way of doing that.

Now, for my final hard lesson from this past month, I called the Giant Eagle Customer Service number, our local grocery store, to convert my 50 cents of fuel perks into a five dollar off coupon.

During the call, the lady told me that I had let 10 cents of my fuel perks expire in March and told me that she could, as a once a year courtesy, give them back to me. Who would have known that they would extend that considering one month I let 30 cents lapse. I thanked her for letting me know and declined her offer.

One of these days in the next year, I may need to use that courtesy. Sometime when I really, really blow it. Check out your local grocery store rewards program and see if there's a way you can convert your fuel perks, if you don't use them for fuel that is, into something you can use. If they do, also find out if they have a similar once a year courtesy as the Giant Eagle does.

Till next time, keep saving money, making good use of your time, and getting all the sleep you need. I have so much more in store for you next issue.


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Special Notices ### contributed by several readers

"The blind dating community" is a new facebook group hosted by blind moderators, enabling visually impaired singles to communicate and get to know others. The link of the group is:

https://www. facebook. com/groups/732925866827394/

Blind-philly. com is an E-mail site on which computer, Ios and other access technology updates are posted. The most recent post I read on that website was about a new command you can use if you have Ios8. 3 installed on your phone. With that app, you can tell Siri to place a call on Speaker Phone. For example, if I had the necessary app installed, I could say, "Call my husband on Speaker Phone," or call 411 on speaker Phone. This new Siri command also offers the option of giving a phone number either after or before a word.

The only aspect of this which one might consider a drawback is that the phone is no longer on speaker once you place it to your ear.

To obtain more information about this new Siri command and its flexibility relative to calling someone on Speaker Phone, your nearest iPhone store can be a wealth of information. Several times I have gone to the iPhone store closest to me in Pittsburgh PA, that business always being a rich source of well-presented information.

Conducting a search on apple. com will also help as will asking anyone who has tried this app. Have any of you tried this new Siri command with Ios 8. 3 installed? If so, how did you like it?

Was it better than you thought or not as good? What improvements, if any, would you suggest to Apple?

Since Readers Forum is a way for you to raise topics, ask questions, and express opinions, I would love to hear from anyone who regularly uses or has tried to use this updated application.

Terri Winaught, Editor


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A great May Perkins Reunion

By Karen Crowder

Each May since 2000, Bob Branco has had spring reunions of former Perkins School students at restaurants.

Every year since 2009, the reunion was at Uno's. I am about to describe the one I attended on May 4, 2013.

On Saturday May 4, my friend Candice and I stood outdoors at her apartment enjoying spring sunshine. Although it was ten o'clock A. M, we hoped our ride would arrive "any minute. "

We listened, hearing the telltale sound of the engine and its distinctive beep backing into 30 Linden Street.

I got in to the van first, Candice standing on the lift with her walker, the driver helping her in to the large van. We drove into Welsely, and traffic was light this Saturday morning. At the transfer in Welsley, we alighted to another large van. We discovered an older student I had known at Perkins was riding with us. He is a musician who was playing another gig that night.

Twenty minutes later at 11-19, we arrived at our destination.

We went up the broad stairs, onto the large terrace. I noticed how cool the breeze was and hoped I would not be sitting in a room too close to the door. As we entered Uno's, I could not believe how large this restaurant was with its many rooms.

Even at 11-25, the cacophony of competing conversations was nearly overwhelming. The room did not seem big enough for everyone who had attended.

My friend Candice and I separated. My friend Tom signaled I could sit with him in a booth. I was immediately comfortable and contented, sinking in to the leather-like booth.

Bob was happy to see so many at the annual May reunion. He called the roll, making us aware of who was there on this lovely spring Saturday. . . I heard names of friends I had not seen in years.

Since there was only one Braille menu for approximately forty people, I had the server read the list of soups and sandwiches. I ordered broccoli and cheese soup and a cheeseburger with mushrooms, onions, lettuce and aged Cabot cheddar with accompanying mashed potatoes. Tom ordered Mac and cheese with steak knowing he would like it. I loved the soup with oyster crackers. The cheeseburger was almost too big for me to finish. However, it was juicy with its distinctive charbroiled flavor. The onions, cheese and mushrooms complemented it. However, I could not eat the mashed potatoes, which had seemed to be the right accompaniment. Tom asked, "Why did you order them?" I said "I thought I would be able to eat them. I can't eat as much as I used to. " "

After one-thirty Bob called names, checking if other people who had been absent were here. Some had chosen to eat in another quieter room. ".

I got up, guided to the large restroom by the kind server. Afterwards I animatedly chatted with friends I had not seen in awhile. I sat near someone's wheel chair listening as she told me how she was faring at the nursing home. She is able to go out and enjoys reading Xavier Society Catholic literature. It was wonderful talking to her.

I talked to another woman who I have known since childhood. We went to the same day camp together in 1960. She recalled the pleasant memories of going to the beach every day. We had fond memories of the ice-cream truck. It always came to the Weymouth day camp at five of two. We always rushed to buy the five-cent fudge-cicle before getting in to the large cab. It took us to the beach in Weymouth. We always loved those afternoons, and the welcome swim cooling us off on hot August afternoons. .

We talked of other people we had known. I was happy to see her having this enjoyable chat. Candice and I talked to other friends catching up on our lives and what we were doing. I hoped we all would remain in touch. As the afternoon waned, people were gradually returning home on paratransit.

Candice and I were guided outdoors, to a bench on the terrace. An easterly wind was blowing from the Atlantic. My hopes for a warm afternoon had been dashed. I was thankful for my long yellow polyester pants, white long sleeved shirt and jacket. I saw people going on their ride. I called our ride provider; He told us they were there. I notified them we are both blind, and he stated they would look for us.

The ride came as I was standing on the bottom step hoping the van would see us. With another passenger, we drove to his stop and to our transfer in Welsley.

Traffic on this Saturday afternoon was surprisingly light when driving to Framingham. Candice was informing her driver that she would be moving to Marlborough at the end of the month; she would miss having this ride service. Since Marlboro is, "the next town over, no one understood "why they did not have the same ride service. "

After this long day,we were at our destination: 30 Linden Street. The driver guided me off the van towards the steps. I went up to the door. He helped Candice with her walker. We both went in out of this lovely late afternoon sunshine. We entered her apartment building, which has a common entry hall, leading to her apartment. It was a nice reunion, and a time to reconnect with old friends.

That day was bitter sweet, since we did not know how our lives would change in 2014. The Ziegler publication was in suspension, and the Uno's, which we had known and loved, had closed. Candice had moved to Marlboro finding transportation difficult. We had our next reunion at Uno's in Waltham. In 2015, we are having it at The Mount Vernon, a lovely restaurant in Somerville. Let us hope the weather cooperates, with a lovely sunny warm day.


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Welcome to spring, the season of rebirth

By Ernest Jones

Exuberating joy and thankfulness fill me, driving out the winter blues as I soar high into the blue yonder. I flap my wings vigorously as I try to regain some strength I lost from too many long idle winter days. Down below is a mass of activity - it seems everyone and everything is busy. There are several people trying to wash the winter's grime from off their cars. There is aman mowing his small lawn and he is on a riding mower. Why, that lawn is not much longer than his mower. He should just get a goat and save all the expense to keep that large riding mower in good condition. Just think what he could do with a goat - I could even ride it. What would all thepassers-bysay when they sawme, this magnificent black bird sitting proudly on a snow white goat's back. Then that man could get rid of that noisy riding mower. ,. but look at the smile on his face - he must be dreaming,. "hey, watch out. "Phew, that was close, he almost ran over the cat!"

"Now, there is a real tractor," I caw, as I spy a large caterpillar pulling a set of 4 plows behind it. The soil is black as it rolls over. This field is huge, about one mile in one direction and nearly half a mile the other way - it will soon be green with tiny spears of growing oats.

Then I see yet another interesting sight. Following this huge and noisy tractorare about 2 dozen Sea Gulls who have landed behind the tractor andare having a feast on grubs and worms that suddenlyare left exposed. Occasionally the plows will even turn over a gopher and Ilaugh as these gulls land on the critter. The gopher never has a chance, even though I know mostare already badly injured. I know Ernie wishes more of these pesky gophers could be used as Gull food or maybe for coon or possum feed, but they just seem to multiply!

I circle a little more before landing on the top of my pine tree. Slowly I stretch my wings and preen my feathers in the growing warmth of early spring. Then I sit and look around at my land – of course it is my land. Over to the East I can still see the snow from a recent snowfall. Itisn't much but I know it will still help with spring irrigation. Higher up Ican just make out the taller mountain tops, a bright white against the blue sky. But Iam drawn back to watch those Sea Gulls. Here I am, over 300 miles from the nearest ocean and I find a bunch of Sea Gulls. Now, don't talk about us crows being noisy for these Sea Gulls will out-scream any crow. My, such noise as they fight over the tidbits they find. Why are they here and not at the beach where they belong?They comehere every spring for a few weeks and then they are gone, leaving behind what seems like a much quieter place.

I look nearer to my house - of course it is my house - don't I protect and watch over this place?"The garden has just been tilled and it looks so smooth and level. Really the soil was just a little too wet but we did not dare wait any longer for another rain storm could come. I can imagine the plants that will soon be shooting up from its rich soil. But Ernie wants to let the garden setanother 3 weeks and have it tilled one more time before planting the early crops. I know he wants to have the early garden planted by early April - carrots, lettuce, potatoes and of course those delicious Walla Walla Sweet onions. Already at one end of the garden, the garlic, planted late last summer, has green shoots up 6 inches or more.

I see the daffodils - already many have been picked to adorn other people's houses. These cheery flowers that spread so much brightness even in a dark house are a delight to see. Why, even after a sudden dip in the temperature, shooting the mercury into the teens these lovely flowers just smile back up to the morning sun as the ice melts off. They never seem to mind any weather that is thrown at them. There are theCrown Imperials, those lovely bunches of bell- like flowers that hang down around the top of the stem, resembling a royal golden crown. Look at how many we have now, and a few years ago there were only 2. Too bad Ernie can't sell them for the price one has to pay out of the catalogs. Why, in the catalog these large bulbs cost around $8. 00 each and I know he has already given dozens of these bulbs away. They make a beautiful backdrop for the daffodils but sure fill the yard with a much like a skunk odor.

I fly to theback of the house and observe many birds fighting over the seed in the bird feeders. Who said these lovely little songbirds are such "nice" little fellows?Why, they fight worse than any of my kind do, but still I like having them around. The air is filled with their lovely trills, whistles and songs. Already they are busy building nests that soon will hold little specks of life - these little birds, looking more like a large gaping mouth and tiny body and are always hungry. The poor parent birds are sure kept busy, but I guess that is their problem. As for me, I enjoy my freedom!

Well, to all my friends, even to you where this cheery spring seems very late this year, I say, "enjoy life. Take one day at a time and savor its goodness. If today is not what you want, well watch out, for surely spring will come to you before long. The downpours will turn to spring showers and the frozen earth and deep snow banks will become lovely lawns and beautiful gardens. The once muddy and smelly cow & horse pastures will become sweet smelling pastures once again. So enjoy life today – don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrowwill take care of itself!

Happy Spring from who else but

The Wise Old Crow!




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Reading Braille,

By DeAnna Quietwater Noriega

Left hand begins the task,

Right hand finishes.

Left hand slides down to begin the next,

Right hand slips to meet in the middle.

Bumps translate in to words,

And the mind sails off and away.

Thoughts and pictures,

Tell the story,

The gliding hands forgotten.


May's promises

By Karen Crowder

As May first dawns,

Northeast winds blowing across New England,

On May 6th, there is a joyous Mexican holiday,

Warmer sun greening trees and grasses,

Lilies and hyacinths bloom sending out their fragrance,

Store racks filled with summer clothing,

Shoe racks filled with the latest "sandals and clogs for hot days,"

Online catalogs showing sun dresses and swimsuits,

Heat arriving in New England by mid May.

Lilacs begin blooming,

their soft sweet scent fleeting,

Ice cream stands and clam shacks open,

Memorial Day arriving with cookouts and parades,

Cape Cod trains begin running throughout summer season,

Daytime cruises going from Boston Harbor to Province town,

Amtrak trains traveling from Boston to Old Orchard beach and Brunswick, Maine

May ending with hopes of long warm summer days,


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A Salvation Army Dumpster Escapade

By Steve Brown

Suddenly from above,

The pirate horde wooshes down.

The cacophonus chorus

A kao-kaa, kao-kaa sound

Is garbed in motley greys and white

All about me.

Their savage flight

Landing quickly—with great dispatch—

Our hungry birds take there a snack.

Like flying monkeys in Dorothy’s Oz

A threat manifested

Because of over-abundance caused.


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The Consumer Vision Trivia Contest ### by Bob Branco

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the March/April Consumer Vision. There are 6 umpires in a Major League Baseball playoff game. Congratulations to the following winner:

Russell Carrick of Denver, Colorado

And now, here is your trivia question for the May/June Consumer Vision. Who was the President of the United States between Grover Cleveland’s two terms as President? If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.

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